The Austrian Tradition on Mises' Birthday
By Art Carden
Pete Boettke has a great post on the intellectual legacy of Ludwig von Mises at Coordination Problem (HT: Pete Boettke via Twitter). With speculation about the possibility of a shared Baumol-Kirzner Nobel Prize, this is an interesting time to be working in the Austrian Tradition. Two years ago, I wrote about why Mises is “The Greatest Thinker You’ve Never Read.” His explanation for why socialism cannot work stands, I believe, as one of the most important intellectual achievements of the social sciences. Here is the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics on Mises.
I believe with Milton Friedman that there’s Good Economics and Bad Economics, and therefore I don’t care that much for labels. That said, the Austrian tradition remains a vibrant research program that is pushing at the frontiers of the social sciences very broadly. For one example, see this Atlantic article that spotlights David Skarbek’s work on prison gangs. For more, see Christopher Coyne’s important work, including his breakthrough analyses of why we cannot build liberal democracy or liberal capitalism at gunpoint. I could go on for hours. What are the elements of this research program in economics and politics today? Here’s Boettke (with a typo fixed):
There should be little doubt that there is a Mises-Hayek research program to be developed in economics and political economy. Kirzner is the heir apparent to that program in technical economics, and I’d argue that Buchanan was the heir apparent to that program in political economy. Thus, the legacy of Ludwig von Mises lives on through the further development of the Mises-Hayek-Kirzner theory of the entrepreneurial market process, and in the Smith-Mises-Hayek-Buchanan continual restatement of classical liberalism.
At the end of Human Action, Mises catalogs a litany of mistaken ideas that have led to disastrous consequences. He concludes:
These are sad facts. However, there is only one way in which a man can respond to them: by never relaxing in the search for truth.
I couldn’t agree more.